Benton Harbor EFM soon to be out of a job

Benton Harbor’s Emergency Financial Manager, Joseph Harris, may soon be out of a job.

According to the Herald Palladium, Harris says the state is pushing him out of his position after a deal he and officials made with Benton Harbor commissioners.

Harris says he was told to write his letter of resignation this week, and that as of January 31st, he will be out of a job altogether. After a meeting Tuesday with state Deputy Treasurer Roger Fraser, Harris says he was told the commission agreed to support a special assessment if the state fired Harris.

A spokesman for the treasury department would not comment on the situation, but said officials are “considering a possible transition.”

The director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory affairs, in addition to the state treasurer, all make up the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board which has the authority to appoint or fire an Emergency Financial Manager’s contract at its own will.

As EFM, Harris proposed a 15-mill special assessment on Monday to fix the city’s $1.4 million hole after two millages failed in November, but, the commission and several citizens supported a 10-mill assessment.

After holding several public hearings on proposed assessments, Harris said he would submit the 10-mill special assessment to Berrien County for the winter tax rolls.

Members of the commission said they requested Harris be replaced because there was too much tension between the EFM and the commission to move forward with the plan.


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